The Spanish summer of basketball

2022-09-18T13:30:55+00:00 2022-10-01T10:48:06+00:00.

Cesare Milanti

18/Sep/22 13:30

Spain managed to get at least a silver medal on all levels of FIBA basketball this summer with the only exception being the senior women’s national team

By Cesare Milanti/

Despite a path full of pitfalls, the final of EuroBasket 2022 be once again a game between Spain and France. The umpteenth chapter of an eternal rivalry, after a tournament in which Vincent Collet’s team miraculously overcame the obstacles created by Turkey and Italy, while Spain had its own share of adversity.

Whatever the outcome of today’s match, Spanish basketball will conclude what is without any doubt the best summer in its history on all levels, despite the uncertainties before the start of EuroBasket 2022 were much more than their certainties.

Defending World Champions aiming for Eurobasket top

In the FIBA Power Ranking of EuroBasket 2022, Spain was put at 7th place, with the following justification: “Spain are perennial medal winners at EuroBasket, but there is a different sense of expectation as they enter this year’s tournament”.

Indeed, not everything was set for a new banquet full of satisfaction for Spain. After the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo where Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, and Sergio Rodriguez retired from their national team, the roster that came to EuroBasket 2022 had some concerns.

The much-disputed naturalization of Lorenzo Brown, the last-second forfeit of Sergio Llull, and the lack of a guard like Ricky Rubio did not calm the spirits of Spanish fans, largely convinced that a roster where only brothers Hernangomez and Usman Garuba had current NBA experience was not enough.

The doubts, however, were dispelled first with a concrete group stage – first in Group A with only the upsetting defeat against Belgium – and then three solid victories against Lithuania, Finland, and Germany.

Defeating Finland 100-90 at the end of a very intense match, the group led by Lorenzo Brown and the Hernangomez brothers had extended the streak of consecutive participations to a EuroBasket semifinal: since 1999, La Roja has been in the Top 4 of the competition.

With the 96-91 win over Germany, Spain has gone even further, because whatever the outcome of the final against France, the team coached by Sergio Scariolo – who will now probably be considered the best head coach in national team basketball history – will get its 7th consecutive medal at EuroBasket.

After the bronze medals of 2013 and 2017, the silver of 2007, and the gold of 2009, 2011 (against France), and 2015, La Familia wrote history again. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg

A dominant summer on every level…

What is most surprising is that the successes did not come only for the senior men’s national team. In all the competitions that have seen the young male and female Spanish players enter the court, the end result was at least the final.

Never off the podium, never on the third step.

These were the outstanding results of the men’s national teams:

U16: Silver medal in EuroBasket, lost 77-68 against Lithuania in the final;
U17: Silver medal in the World Cup, lost 67-79 against the USA in the final;
U18: Gold medal in EuroBasket, won 61-68 against Turkey in the final;
U20: Gold medal in EuroBasket, won 61-69 against Lithuania in the final;

As for the individual prizes, between all four Spanish Nationals, five players finished in the All-Star Five of the different competitions. The most shocking outcome is that in each of the four tournaments, regardless of the final result, the MVP was a player from Spain:

U16 EuroBasket: Mario Saint-Supery, who averaged 21.9 points, 6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.7 steals per game;
U17 World Cup: Izan Almansa, who averaged 12.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game;
U18 EuroBasket: Izan Almansa, who averaged 15.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game;
U20 EuroBasket: Juan Nunez, averaged 11.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game.

You read right: Izan Almansa, an incredible prospect who’s currently playing with the Overtime Elite Academy, was voted the best player in both the U17 World Cup and the U18 EuroBasket.

…for all Spanish national teams

And while the new male generation has shown that it can continue the dominance of Iberian basketball, the female players of the future have also experienced an unforgettable summer:

U16: Silver medal in EuroBasket, lost 65-61 against France in the final;
U17: Silver medal in the World Cup, lost 84-62 against the USA in the final;
U18: Silver medal in EuroBasket, lost 75-78 against Lithuania in the final;
U20: Gold medal in EuroBasket, won 42-47 against the Czech Republic in the final.

Not only that, because once again there were individual prizes for the various Spanish players as well. Among all four tournaments, six players were named to the All-Star Five, including two MVPs: Iyana Martin Carrion in the FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship and Claudia Contell in the FIBA U20 Women’s European Championship.

Unfortunately, there can be no icing on the cake with the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 starting on September 22nd in Sydney. After losing the chance to play in the qualifying tournament against Russia on 26 June 2021 at home in Valencia, the Spanish women’s national team did not qualify for the group stage in Australia, after three consecutive editions ended on the podium: bronze in 2010 and 2018, silver in 2014.

Nevertheless, as we have seen this summer, the future (and the present) of Spanish basketball is clear and bright. Substantial investment in youth sector structures and two fast-growing leagues – potentially 12 ACB League teams will play between Euroleague, Eurocup, and Basketball Champions League next season, while there could be 8 teams from the Liga Femenina de Baloncesto between the EuroCup and the EuroLeague Women 2022/2023 – are making a generational change possible, which can bring new satisfaction.

It was a good summer for Spanish basketball.

But also a good year, a good decade, a good century.